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SAT's vs. SAT Subject Tests: They're Not The Same Thing
Home Reference & Education College & University
By: Cassie Nichols Email Article
Word Count: 427 Digg it | it | Google it | StumbleUpon it


Yesterday I met with Katie, a junior from Colorado. These first meetings are among my favorite. I get to meet students for the first time and learn about their dreams and expectations. I also get to find out what they donít know.

Hereís what Katie didnít know:

Thereís the SAT, and there are the SAT Subject Tests. They are not the same exam. As soon as youíve chosen your colleges, investigate whether each college requires or "recommends" the SAT Subject Tests. Most donít, but some do. You need to know now, not later.

These are hour-long exams held on the same day as the SAT. Understand that you cannot take both the SAT and SAT Subject Tests in one sitting, so itís important to plan ahead for two separate exam sessions.

SAT Subject Tests are scored just like the SAT (out of 800), and you can take them on a range of subjects (Math, US History, Chemistry, etc.) If colleges do require them, theyíll most likely ask you to submit two Subject Test scores of your choice. Although youíll submit two scores, you can take up to three Subject Tests in one sitting. If possible, plan to test in three of your strongest subjects; that way, you can send your best two out of three to the colleges on your list.

Although most colleges do not require the SAT Subject Tests, the highly selective universities often do. Itís worth consulting an admissions guidebook or calling an admissions office to verify their requirements as soon as possible. If they "recommend" the tests, take them.

Last year, I met with a senior during winter break who had applied to several University of California schools before learning they required two Subject Test scores. By the time I met her, it was too late to take these tests. This was a remarkable student with impressive leadership skills. Sheíll have great options next year, but her choices were indisputably narrowed simply because she didnít know about these tests in advance.

Katie hadnít heard of them either, and so Iím glad we talked yesterday. Sheíll take them in May or June, when the content is fresh in her mind, rather than scrambling to review the subjects in the fall.

You can register for Subject Tests through College Board. If you have questions about your particular situation, donít be shy. Drop me a line through College Specific, and Iím happy to help.

Cassie Nichols is the founder and director of College Specific.

She holds a Bachelor of Arts degree in English from Princeton University and a Masters of Arts degree in Education at University of California, Santa Barbara.

College Specific guides students and families, creating a clear path to the college of their choice.

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